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  Photographs: 6 June 2004
Hampshire and D-Day - The 60th Anniversary

In the early hours of 6 June 1944, allied troops landed in Normandy. So began the greatest invasion in history and the eventual liberation of Europe and the end of the Second World War. Located directly opposite Normandy, Hampshire was the springboard for Operation Overlord - the codename for the allied invasion of Europe.
Hampshire became a vast armed camp, full of allied troops encamped in the towns, villages and the forests of the county. Winchester's newly built bypass was requisitioned and became a giant tank park and camp for British and American troops, even Peninsula Barracks in the city was taken over by the 9th US Infantry Division. It was here the American troops were reviewed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower.

The Supreme Allied Commander-in-Chief, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and his Ground Commander, General Sir Bernard Law Montgomery. General Eisenhower went on to serve two terms as President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. While Field Marshal Montgomery commanded the British army of occupation and was military governor of the British zone in Germany until 1946. In that year he was granted a peerage and took the title Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, and was appointed chief of the Imperial General Staff. In 1948 he became chairman of the Commanders-in-Chief of the Western Alliance, and from 1951 to 1958 was Deputy Supreme Commander, SHAPE. After his retirement he lived at his country home in the small Hampshire village of Isington.

 Pre-invasion letters from General Eisenhower...
 Click on the letters for a larger image

   ...and from "Monty" General Montgomery.

The natural amphitheatre at Cheesefoot Head became a vast encampment of allied troops prior to D-Day. Thousands of American and British troops filled the steeply sloping banks to see Joe Louis, the heavyweight champion of the world - serving in the US army as a physical education teacher - at a US Army boxing tournament. General Eisenhower also used the large amphitheatre to address American troops just prior to D-Day.                                Photo: David Packman


Part of the huge invasion fleet, fully loaded and camouflaged Landing Craft, Tanks (LCTs) in Southampton Docks.   Photograph copyright National Archives Canada


Southampton - Troops going aboard an L.C.I. and later landing on Juno Beach at Bernieres-sur-mer, Normandy.   Photograph copyright National Archives Canada


A wartime Bofors gun still in its emplacement overlooking Southampton Water, behind the gun is BP's oil terminal and the site of the wartime Hamble aerodrome. The aerodrome was under the command of the 15 Ferry Pilots Pool, part of the Air Taxi Association who delivered aircraft to RAF stations throughout the war. With most of the pilots being women it caused quite a stir when the first woman pilot arrived, but the novelty soon wore off.
To get fuel to the Allied forces, PLUTO lines - Pipe Lines Under The Ocean - were laid across the English Channel from Hamble le Rice's BP terminal to Cherbourg, via Lepe and the Isle of Wight. The pipelines were laid using specially converted ships, which carried the pipelines in the hold and laid the pipe on the bottom of the sea. The other method was massive drums which had miles of pipe wound around them, they were then towed across the Channel and as they floated they revolved and the pipeline was laid on the sea bed.
                                                                     Photo: David Packman


Southwick House as it is today, photographed from Portsdown Hill. The wartime site was re-developed after it was compulsorily purchased by the Royal Navy in 1950 and re-named HMS Dryad.

Photo: David Packman


The restored War Map set for H-Hour on D-Day 6th June 1944, mounted in the old drawing room of Southwick House.


Pegasus Bridge - At 0016hrs on the 6th June Major John Howard commanding a small force of British 6th Airborne troops from D Company, 2nd Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, plus a small detachment of Royal Engineers landed in six Horsa gliders at Benouville. Three gliders landed next to the bridge over the Caen Canal, the others next to the River Orne bridge, each glider was carrying 28 soldiers. First to land was Major Howard's glider piloted by Staff Sergeants Jim Wallwork and John Ainsworth, followed by the other two they had landed within a few feet of the canal bridge, the Germans being unaware of the landing. After a brief battle the bridge was captured, during which Lieutenant "Den" Brotheridge was killed, sadly making him the first Allied soldier killed in action on D-Day. The three gliders at the Orne river bridge landed somewhat further away from their target and one missed completely. It turned out the bridge was undefended, the German troops having left.
Only 10 minutes after landing at 0026hrs and just 90 minutes after taking off from RAF Tarrant Rushton in England Major Howard sent the code words Ham and Jam, indicating that both bridges had been captured. The French Government renamed the canal bridge "Pegasus Bridge" in recognition of the achievement of the 6th Airborne Division that night. Forty-five years later the Mayor of Ranville unveiled a plaque to commemorate the capture of the river bridge, now named "Horsa Bridge".


HMS Warspite bombarding the German defences at Normandy with her 15 inch guns.


The Golden Lion at Southwick became an unoffical Officers Mess. One of the pub's claims is, among many others they served General's Eisenhower and Montgomery with refreshments. The second claim being they never ran out of beer, the pub had its own brewhouse at the rear of the building, the last brew being 1957 when brewmaster Dick Olding retired. Below, the plaque near the entrance of the pub giving some details of its wartime history.                                                                   Photo: David Packman


                                                                                Photo: David Packman


Sixty years later one of the wartime 12 pounder guns on the roof of Calshot Castle looks out over a now peaceful Solent.

Photo: David Packman

More Hampshire and D-Day on page 2 - Click here

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        All Photographs copyright David Packman © 2002 - 2009 (All Rights Reserved)